HONG KONG A prominent international Chinese mission organization headquartered in the United States shared the vision for China to become the greatest evangelical nation" during its 10th anniversary celebration in Hong Kong.
Speaking at the Gospel Operation International for Chinese Christians' (GOINTL) 10th anniversary thanksgiving ceremony on Sept. 9, General Director Rev Cyrus Lam gave the keynote address entitled, "The Challenges and Vision of the Back to Jerusalem Movement." Lam's message explained the important commission of Chinese churches in the Back to Jerusalem movement.
The Back to Jerusalem movement is an 80-year-old vision of Chinese house churches to take the Gospel from China to the area known as the 10/40 Window where Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism are dominant and that encompasses 90 percent of the worlds unreached people.
"Many people commented that Back to Jerusalem movement would be the biggest evangelical movement before the second coming of the Lord and China might become the largest evangelical force before the second coming of the Lord as well," Lam said.
The general director gave support for the statement, citing some statistics. It is estimated that there are 60 million Christians in China and 1 million among them are missionaries. If just 10 percent of these missionaries join the Back to Jerusalem movement, it would mean a 100,000-strong force.
One study, however, done by the Hong Kong Association of Christian Mission claimed that around one missionary is sent out for every four churches in Hong Kong. Referring to this ratio, Lam said in China where the number of churches exceeds 300,000 at least 70,000 missionaries can be sent out for world mission.
In continuing, Lam said the dream of sending 100,000 missionaries from Mainland China to join the Back to Jerusalem movement is possible and he urged Christians to pray for this dream to come true.
Recalling the history of the development of Christianity in China, Lam said the very first Chinese overseas mission organization was the Chinese Foreign Missionary Union founded by Rev. Robert Alexander Jaffray in 1929. Many Chinese from Mainland China have since been sent to pioneer Southern Asia.
Rev. Jaffray was a Canada-born Scottish and one of the very first missionaries to China from the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.
Today, many Chinese Christians have the passion to evangelize the Middle East, according to Rev Lam. Lam has met many Chinese Christians from the province of Wenzhou in Turkey that have planted some churches in the area and are learning the local language to preach the Gospel.
However, despite the great hope of the Chinese overseas mission, Rev Lam acknowledged that there are practical difficulties for Mainland Chinese to fulfill the great commission.
First of all, Rev Lam said that many Chinese Christians still retain the old mindset of bringing the Gospel back to Jerusalem, planning to start the mission journey by foot or riding on a camel. They should make good use of new technologies to spread the Gospel more efficiently, he stated.
Rev Lam added that many pioneering Chinese missionaries lack mission training, easily leading to problems arising in their mission field. In Mainland China, many churches just provide missionaries with a flight ticket to go to the mission field, but there is no follow-up support and assistance, therefore many missionaries fall into despair and lose strength, Lam noted.
To offer better support to overseas Chinese missionaries, Lam suggested putting together the mission resources in Hong Kong and China.
He pointed out that Hong Kong has abundant resources, structure and system; therefore it is very strong in terms of knowledge, training and technical backup. The main problem of Hong Kong is lack of manpower. However, the situation in China is the opposite. China has many people but lacks knowledge and experiences in mission field.
Churches in Hong Kong and overseas Chinese churches should cooperate with churches in Mainland China, Rev Lam said. Possible projects include setting up China mission fund to support Chinese overseas missionaries financially and to publish missionary handbooks for education.
"I hope that Hong Kong can become an important base for Chinese mission. Missionaries should serve the community and spread the Gospel widely," said Rev Lam, giving words of encouragement to Hong Kong. "In the midst of globalization, Hong Kong has to take up the role of connecting different places in the world. Under the guidance of God, I hope that Hong Kong can open a new way, so that more Chinese can be sent out."
[Editors Note: Chris Chan reported from Hong Kong for this article and Eunice Or from San Francisco.]